By Kenny Herzog
The recent release of Anaconda 3 signals more than just the potential demise of modern cinema as we know it, or a particularly poignant nadir for its star, David Hasselhoff, once the mastermind behind the world's most popular television show. It's also brightly emblematic of a hidden little Hollywood trend: the studio-funded, direct-to-video/cable cheapo sequel to a successful theatrical film.
Usually, they carry one or more of the following traits, among other obvious markers: a bluntly evocative subtitle; being scripted as a prequel to avoid the burden of continuity; and cast members that rotate like a Ferris wheel. And chances are, you didn't know half of these well-known semi-hits even had bastardized Blu-Ray offspring. That makes two of us. Here are the top 10 (and yes, we know Meatballs Part II was technically in theaters, but did you see it, smartass?):
10. The Lost Boys
Sequel: Lost Boys: The Tribe
Relation To Its Predecessor: In concept and campy spirit only. And a revamping of that crappy Tom Mac song.
Cast Crossover: Yes, Corey Feldman is in it. As the town's resident vampire hunter. Corey Haim must have had other engagements. Like not talking to Feldman after they played a public game of who-molested-who.
Will It Affect My Love Of The Original? Actually, it might make you remember just how silly the original was, rather than holding onto recollections of how spooked you were after watching something directed by the guy who brought us Batman Forever.
9. Scorpion King
Sequels: Scorpion King 2: Rise Of A Warrior
Relation To Its Predecessor: Aside from Universal teasing the trailer with images of The Rock from the first one, mostly just low-budget versions of all those silly homoerotic costumes, which look like something thrown together from the wardrobe closets of The 300 and Wrestlemania IV.
Cast Crossover: Unless you count the Rock's trailer cameo (which is kind of like the modern-day action version of Crispin Glover magically appearing in Back To The Future II), nada.
Will It Affect My Love Of The Original? Only if you went to see it with your fraternity and missed out on all the sexually ambiguous subtext because of those distracting CGI effects.
8. Dukes Of Hazzard
Sequels: Dukes Of Hazzard: The Beginning
Relation To Their Predecessor: If you couldn't tell by the subtitle, it takes place during Luke and Bo's formative years in Hazzard County. Which is basically an excuse to make things a giant hormone fest. And oh, we get supposedly super-rad points-of-origin moments like the first time Bo slid across the hood of his Dodge Charger.
Cast Crossover: Ol' faithful Willie Nelson is back as Uncle Jesse, but the rest of the cast is actually a fascinating bizarreo-world version of the first Dukes flick, including the likes of Real World tramp Trishelle Cannatella─who's not even playing Daisy.
Will It Affect My Love Of The Original? The original series, maybe. Personally, it somehow dented our affection for Burger King's Original Whopper Jr. Sandwich. Or maybe that was just those creepy mascot ads.
7. The Substitute
Sequels: The Substitute 2: School's Out, The Substitute 3: Winner Takes All and The Substitute 4: Failure Is Not An Option
Relation To Their Predecessor: Abstract, at best. Watching cheapo, late-night HBO staple franchises like this worm their way through convoluted Dangerous Minds-meets-Rambo shenanigans is worth the price of admission alone. And by admission, we mean used VHS purchase from a stoop sale. One also wonders how these films would play in a post-school-shootings-world.
Cast Crossover: The cast of the original is a pretty nifty convergence of gritty cult faves like William Forsythe and future cult faves─like Marc Anthony. Lead student slayer Tom Berenger ceded this cash-calf to Treat Williams, who actually comandeers the titular role for all three (!) ensuing sequels. Talk about prince of the shitty.
Will They Affect My Love Of The Original? Actually, watching the first installment kind of taints the subsequent guilty-pleasure fun of ensuring entries. Where else will you get Claudia Christian spouting lines like "In order to work at those places, you gotta have a bra size bigger than your IQ."
6. Class Of 1984
Sequels: Class Of 1999 and Class Of 1999 II: The Substitute
Relation To Their Predecessor: More or less non-existent. Director Mark L. Lester stays on board for 1999 and maintains 1984's strangely contradictory mixture of conservative messaging and brutal violence. But by the time we get to 1999 II, the series has morphed into American Psycho as influenced by Westworld, and done a complete ethical bellyflop in the process.
Cast Crossover: Major points for knowingly casting Malcom McDowell, Stacy Keach and Pam Grier in the first sequel (shit, even the little brother from Teen Witch makes an appearance), thus alleviating Lester's dilemma of recreating 1984's exploitative charms, since they were mostly accidental to begin with.
Will They Affect My Love Of The Original? Yes, deeply, but as long as you disregard Lester's renewed involvement, immense satisfaction can come from absorbing it as a mutually exclusive schlock-fest.
5. From Dusk Till Dawn
Sequels: From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money and From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter
Relation To Their Predecessor: Fairly strong, at least in Texas, where the Titty Twister Bar is yet again the sight of both debauchery and deadliness. Hangman, however, goes for a quickie cash-in and sets things back a century, deviating completely from the modern-day, sexed-up vamp appeal of its forebears.
Cast Crossover: None to speak of. However, we do get Bruce Campbell in Blood Money, which is a suitable bit of surrogate stunt casting in replacement of Tom Savini.
Will They Affect My Love Of The Original? The unevenness of the original split most viewers down the middle to begin with, so the newer incarnations shouldn't cause any harm. Unless maybe you watch them without daylight pouring in.
4. Starship Troopers
Sequels: Starship Troopers 2: Hero Of The Federation and Starship Troopers 3: Marauder
Relation To Their Predecessor: Of all the entries on this list, Troopers stays truest to its source, thanks to the continued screenwriting prensce of Edward Neumeir. Although 2 and 3 are missing the wildly subversive flourishes of Paul Verhoeven, who was behind the camera for the beloved original.
Cast Crossover:Casper Van Dien is literally a trooper for returning for the third Starship enterprise, although his support rosters are largely comprised of stock character actors there as conduits to execute super-sweet death scenes.
Will They Affect My Love Of The Original? Naw. This is one franchise that always owned up to its postmodern goofiness, even by the standards of excess demigod Verhoeven.
3. The Net
Sequel: The Net 2.0
Relation To Its Predecessor: This was actually one sequel that would have been warranted on sheer principle, thanks to The Net's well-documented legacy as the most immediately outdated film this side of Disaster Movie. So what's shocking isn't the generic appropriation of the stolen-identity/computer-hacking plot, but that it took them until 2006 to update the 1995 Sandra Bullock debacle.
Cast Crossover: What do you think? Shockingly, even Dennis Miller had better things to do.
Will It Affect My Love Of The Original? Maybe of the original case of floppy disks still sitting on on your desk because you can't quite let go of all your outmoded data-storing technology.
Sequels: Meatballs Part II, Meatballs III: Summer Job and Meatballs 4
Relation To Their Predecessor:Let's just disregard Meatballs 4 for a moment, which basically used the literal possibilities of the series' name to capitalize on the early '90s craze of soft-soft-soft-soft-core teen-boner flicks. The two cinematic treatises between 1979's Bill Murray-starring, coming-of-age romp and 1992's one-tissue tanker are off-the-charts retarded. Part II presages Teen Wolf Too's use of boxing as a rallying point for the climactic protagonist-redemption scene and, for good measure, adds in an alien camper (no shit) they dub Meathead as a witless response to the era's E.T. craze. As for Summer Job, the subtitle is actually a thinly disguised innuendo that symbolizes Patrick Dempsey's desire for someone to hep him erect wood that supports his carnal cabin. And who else to guide him in his quest but the ghost of a deceased porn star played by the actress who most closely resembles a dead prostitute, Sally Kellerman (all apologies to Sally Kirkland). Fucking genius.
Cast Crossover: Did we mention Corey Feldman plays the lady-lovin' ski-instructor in 4? Oh, we just figured you assumed as much.
Will They Affect My Love Of The Original? Criminally so. Watching all three sequels back to back is a slippery slope through innocence lost more rapid than running your finger down Dempsey's surgically corrected nose bone.
1. Road House
Sequel: Road House 2: Last Call
Relation To Its Predecessor: Centering a sequel around the vengeful son of its predecessor's lead protagonist is the second most-popular continuity copout next to the prequel. But reality gets stretched a scintilla too far when said kin coincidentally has to defend the honor of a redneck bar on the way to taking down a nefarious crime boss.
Cast Crossover: Don't pity former That Thing You Do star and Last Call ass-kicker Jonathan Schaech. After all, he did co-write the movie (!). Thankfully, Ben Gazzara has had enough of a career renaissance over the last decade to keep Road House part uno's token villain from being miraculously resurrected. And now we know where Jake Busey was hiding during the filming of Starship Troopers 3.
Will It Affect My Love Of The Original? No one, and we mean no one, puts Road House in a corner.